Julian Bashir hadn't seen a party like this since his early days at the Academy. Music blared. Base pounded. His own heartbeat seemed to speed up to match its insane pace. Lights strobed from all corners of the room, intermittently sweeping the dance floor. A thick haze swirled and drifted above him. People brushed up against him from every direction. Bodies swayed and bobbed in a gigantic mass. He had to look over his shoulder as he glacially made his way through the crowd to ensure that Garak was still trailing behind him. It was impossible to be heard over the deafening noise. Fortunately, they could communicate at other levels. He caught his friend's gaze and in return, Garak brushed his hand against the doctor's arm. Confident all was as it should be, he continued his journey forward, dodging and avoiding contact with others as best he could.

Looking for a singular individual amidst a twisting sea of faces was a painstakingly slow process. Half an hour passed and he was no closer to success. The heat radiating off those around him was beginning to suffocate. His head began to throb in time with the overpowering base and his stomach threatened somersaults. A passing waiter with an upheld tray of drinks cut in front of him on his way to someplace else. Without so much as a second thought, he reached out and plucked one off the tray as the waiter retreated. A hand immediately shot over his shoulder and stopped him from taking the first sip.

It occurred to him only then. What was he thinking? Who knew what was in the drink? Why did he automatically assume it was water or that it would quench his thirst? It appeared clear to the naked eye but that meant nothing. There were many things on this planet perfectly harmless to the native population that were harmful or lethal to humans. When Garak pulled the drink from his hand, he didn't resist. They could leave and find safe refreshments after they found-

What was it they were looking for again? He half turned toward his companion but stopped abruptly. The motion made him dizzy and nauseous. Had he simply become dehydrated? Surely, it wasn't inconceivable in this truly noxious environment. His intellect set about self-diagnosing. His brain however spun its wheels. Something was wrong. Even here, in the middle of this chaos, he should have been able to think clearly. Fear rushed over him. He took in a short breath and discovered that was all he could manage. His chest grew tight.

Air. He needed it desperately.

The next few minutes he would remember later only in disjointed pieces. Faces and features around him elongated and distorted. The music pulsed erratically then faded into the background. His whole body began to ache. Fear threatened to escalate into panic.

Strong hands took hold of him and suddenly he was being rushed from the establishment. Someone was yelling. Garak? Of course it had to be Garak. Garak had been with him all this time. That made sense. Nothing else did. He was sure the world wasn't meant to tilt wildly. He was equally sure black was not his color. It descended upon him and in his last moment of consciousness, he was blissfully happy with its arrival. Garak was there to catch him when he collapsed.